What is a No-Confidence Motion? Procedure, Conditions and difference between Censure motion and No-Confidence motion

Recently, the no-confidence motion against the Pinarayi Vijayan government was defeated 87-40 in the Kerala Assembly. The Assembly has been adjourned sine die.

What is a Motion?

On a matter of general public importance, no discussion can take place except on a motion that is made with the consent of the leader or presiding officer. The decisions or opinions on various issues are expressed by the House through the adoption or rejection of motions moved by either ministers or private members. The members moved the motion to boost discussions on several matters that fall under three principal categories namely Substantive Motion, Substitute Motion and Subsidiary Motion. In simple words, we can state that it is any formal proposal made by a member for the purpose of eliciting a decision of the House. If it is adopted or voted then it amounts to express the will of the House.

What is a No-Confidence Motion?

A Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha and it remains in office till it enjoys the confidence of majority in Lok Sabha. Therefore, a motion of no-confidence is moved to remove the council of ministers and to remove the government from the office.

According to the Article 75 of the Indian Constitution, council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha and as per Article 164, the council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State. That is the ministry stays in office as long as it enjoys the confidence of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha. Or in other words, we can say that Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from the office by passing a no-confidence motion.

Also, Article 118 of the Indian Constitution permits each house of Parliament to make laws for the conduct of business. Lok Sabha Rule 198 specifies the procedure for a motion of no-confidence.

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What is the procedure to move a No-Confidence Motion?

Against the Government, a motion of No-Confidence Motion can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha under rule 198. As discussed above it specifies the procedure for a motion of no-confidence.

There should be a minimum of 50 members to accept the motion. If not, then the motion fails. Before 10 am, any member may provide written notice. The motion of no-confidence is read by the Speaker within the House and asks all those favouring the motion to rise. If 50 MPS are there in favour then the Speaker could allot a date for discussing the motion. But this has to be done within 10 days.

Then, the motion is put to vote and can be conducted through Voice Vote, Division of Votes or other means. It is said that if the government loses a confidence motion or if the no-confidence motion is accepted by the majority then the government has to resign.

What are the conditions related to no-confidence motion?

It can be moved only in the Lok Sabha or state assembly as the case may be. It cannot be moved in the Rajya Sabha or state legislative council.

The no-confidence motion is moved against the entire Council of Ministers including the Prime Minister and not individual ministers or private members and it needs the support of at least 50 members when introduced in the Lok Sabha.

About first No-Confidence Motion

The Rules of Lok Sabha in 1952 provided that a no-confidence motion could be moved with the support of 30 MPs. Even then, not a single no-confidence motion was moved during the term of first two Lok Sabhas.

During the third Lok Sabha in 1963, the first no-confidence motion was moved by the Acharya JB Kriplani against the government headed by the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

What is the difference between Censure Motion and No-Confidence Motion?

Censure Motion

– Reasons should be stated for its adoption in the Lok Sabha.

– It can be moved against an individual minister or a group of ministers or the entire council of ministers.

– It’s moved for censuring the council of ministers for specific policies and actions.

– It is passed in the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers need not resign from the office.

No-Confidence Motion

– It needn’t state the reasons for its adoption within the Lok Sabha.

– It can be moved against the entire council of ministers only.

– It is moved for ascertaining the confidence of Lok Sabha in the council of ministers.

– If it’s passed in the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers must resign from office.

At last about collective responsibility which plays a crucial role or we can say that is the fundamental principle underlying the working of the parliamentary system of government. Article 75 of the Indian Constitution clearly states that the council of ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. That is all the ministers own joint responsibility to the Lok Sabha for all their acts of omission and commission. There is teamwork.

When the Lok Sabha passes no-confidence motion against the council of ministers then all the ministers have to resign including those ministers who are from the Rajya Sabha. Alternatively, the council of ministers can advise the president to dissolve the Lok Sabha on the ground that the House does not represent the views of the electorate faithfully and call for fresh elections. The President may not oblige the council of ministers that has lost the confidence of the Lok Sabha.

Here one thing is to note that the principle of collective responsibility also means that the Cabinet decisions bind all cabinet ministers and other ministers even if they differed in the cabinet meeting. It is the duty of every minister to stand by cabinet decisions and support them within and outside the Parliament. If any minister disagrees with a cabinet decision and is not prepared to defend it then he must resign.

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